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Charging up: Prince Edward Island is now Canada’s most electric-vehicle friendly province.
2012-09-13
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Mayor Basil Stewart and deputy mayor Bruce MacDougall ‘plug’ a Tesla Roadster into the city’s first 90-amp free-to-use electric charging station, which is located outside City Hall. Looking on is Christopher Misch (left) of Sun Country Highway, which is in the electronic-vehicle infrastructure business and partnered with the city to install the charging station. (Nancy MacPhee, Journal Pioneer)

Nancy MacPhee, Journal Pioneer, September 10, 2012

Eight 90-amp electric charging stations are now up and running across the Island with hopes to install more in the weeks and months to come, said the vice-president of the company behind the initiative.

“There will be 10 by the end of this week installed across P.E.I., strategically, generally 40 to 70 kilometres apart,” said Sun Country Highway’s Christopher Misch. “It means that an electric vehicle can now go across the Island. You can drive an electric car anywhere in P.E.I., making P.E.I. the most EV friendly province in all of Canada.”

Monday, representatives from the company pulled into Summerside in their Telsa Roadster, a vehicle far from the stereotypical electric car, as part of its initiative to build Canada’s electric vehicle infrastructure.

“We are partnering with businesses across Canada to launch certain areas. We need to get that done to get people to understand that it can be done,” said Misch. “If a small Canadian company, self-funded, can go out there and put their money where their mouth is and get it done, then we are willing to do that.”

The company wants to install charging stations throughout the country, whether it be at town halls, coffee shops or hotels, to ensure those driving electric vehicles will never have what Misch referred to as range anxiety.

“Traditionally, people don’t want to drive an electric car because they just think ‘what if I can’t charge it’. It’s been the chicken or the egg,” he added. “Sun Country Highway has made a conscious decision to deal with both.”

The company has offered the charging stations free of charge to a limited number of municipalities across the country, including Summerside. The only cost to those communities is the labour to install the units.

Misch said gone are ugly, expensive and often unreliable electric vehicles of the past.

He admitted the Tesla, which costs in excess of $100,000, is not in the average person’s budget but noted there are more economical options available, including the Chevrolet Volt, currently on the lot at Summerside’s Hemphill GM.

The dealership had one on display at City Hall on Monday.

“The Telsa, it’s our flagship because it makes a message. It proved a point that it can be high performance, it can be extremely fast… highly reliable and look good,” added Misch.

An electric vehicle can be pricey, costing upwards to 50 per cent more than a comparable gas powered car, but, said Misch, costs a lot less to run.

“Your payback is pretty quick,” he said, adding with an electric vehicle there is no fuel, oil changes and transmission upkeep to pay for. “And never mind the environmental impact.”

Misch said with more people becoming increasing environmentally conscious electric vehicles, which produce no emissions, are here to stay.

“People think they are a fad, that they’re here today and gone tomorrow, that big oil companies won’t allow it to happen.”

Being in the electrical business, Mayor Basil Stewart said it only made sense for the city to do what it could to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

That’s why he jumped at the chance to partner with Sun Country Highway to install Summerside’s first free for public use electric vehicle charging station at City Hall.

“We are trying to push green communities as much as we can,” said Stewart. “This is a beginning and we are very pleased that they have chosen Summerside to be a part of it.”

He said the hope is that the city will eventually have an electric vehicle in its fleet.

Georgina Vardy, a business administration student at UPEI, is writing her masters’ thesis on electric vehicles and the readiness of Islanders. She was on hand for the unveiling of Summerside’s charging station.

She has investigated infrastructure in place in other parts of the world to accommodate electric vehicle users and what the Canadian government is doing.

The last piece of the puzzle is a survey asking Islanders their views on what she called “the ultimate green product to reduce pollution.”

“Many are hesitant. They are worried the infrastructure won’t exist. That is exactly what is the opposite of what is happening.”

Misch hopes to see more business come on board and install charging stations, making it easier for those who want to go electric to get around.

“The idea is to have it where Canadians go,” he added. “We want it to be convenient. That business, it has given you that perk and, of course, you’ve gone in and spent money in their establishment. It becomes a win-win.”

Read the article at the Journal Pioneer